Hispanic Heritage Month is honored September 15 through October 15. This is a time to recognize, learn, and celebrate contributions and impact made by the Hispanic and Latinx communities in our society and world.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cristal Ruvalcaba, Director of Sales and Outreach with Avamere at Park Place, joined the People of Arete Living Pod to share about her culture, family, career journey, and more.
Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month
Thomas: Passions, beliefs, life stories, helpful resources for the senior living journey. Discover it all here as we get to know our residents, employees and partners one on one. I'm your host, Thomas Cloutier. Welcome to the People of Arete Living Pod. This month, we're honoring Hispanic Heritage Month. Follow Avamere Communities and Arete Living on social media to learn more about all the ways we're honoring Hispanic heritage, including learning about people who have made an impact on our world. Today, we welcome Cristal Ruvalcaba, Director of Sales and Outreach at Avamere at Park Place. Cristal has served here for four years, starting her senior living career as a caregiver. She is a mentor to fellow team members. Cristal attributes her hard-working personality to her parents and her love of baking to her mother, who owns a bakery. Well, hi, Cristal. Welcome to the podcast.
Cristal: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Thomas: Well, we're excited to get to know more about you in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Will you tell me a little bit about yourself and your heritage?
Cristal: Yeah, absolutely. So I am Hispanic. My parents actually came here from Mexico, and they came from Mexico pretty early in their life. So my mom came when she was 18 and my dad about 20 years old. And so they came here to work and go to school. So that's how they met. I grew up with five other siblings. So we are a very big family, very family oriented, very close with all of my siblings, which is lovely because I do have a lot. I fall in second, oldest out of six, so a lot of responsibility kind of falls into my plate being one of the older children. Yeah, so that's a little bit about me and about my family.
Thomas: Sure. And I bet that makes the holidays awfully fun at your house, huh?
Cristal: Oh, yeah, very fun. Lots of food, lots of music. Very beautiful. It's lovely because we are such a big family. We all have our own partners, our own kids. We're bringing in a lot of our own personality into the group, which is very beautiful, I would say.
Thomas: Absolutely. And you brought a lot of personality to our sales team, and I sure appreciate that. Well, you're a mom, most importantly, to an energetic boy. Obviously, as you know, I have two girls. So that's a different set of energy. There's a lot more going on there from my experience with my nephew. So tell me more about your son and your immediate family.
Cristal: Yeah. So I have a four year old son. His name is Thiago. He is, like you said, very active, very energetic. So right now we just started him into sports. So he's actually doing martial arts and he's picked that up really good. So we're excited to see where that goes. So that's awesome. And he's really into doing outdoor stuff, which has kept me on my toes and trying to do different things with him, which is awesome. Last weekend we went fishing. He likes to go hunting with his dad, even as a four-year-old. He loves all of that stuff. So it's awesome. Just seeing a little bit of both him come out of both of our parents and things like that. So that's awesome.
Thomas: It sure is. Sure. It sounds like maybe a future director of sales and outreach.
Cristal: He is very smart for his age. I will give him that. And I have big expectations for him. And that kind of plays into my heritage because my family and my mom specifically, she was very based on my goals and all of that stuff. And I kind of see that portraying onto my son now as a mom. So we'll see what happens. We'll see with time.
Thomas: And you you've done an incredible story. You've advanced your career with Avamere in the last four years you've been with us. So just walk us through your career path and journey with us.
Cristal: Yeah. So I actually started my career here as a caregiver. I actually graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in science in hopes to become a nurse. But I had a son, so I didn't continue my nursing school, so I kind of wanted to stay in the health care background. So I applied for this job, became a caregiver and moved up, became a med tech, became a care coordinator, and now a director of sales and outreach. And, you know, just putting in the work and putting in a good work at the kind of place where I am at today. I am very passionate about everything that I do in every single role, and I make sure that I do it 100% to my ability. And that's just something that I've always done all of my life since I was little. And that's thanks to my mom because she has always pushed me to be the best that I can in anything, even if it's not my forte. So yeah, that's something that's been carried with me and I continue to do that as much as I can.
Thomas: Well, someday you might run this company because, I mean, Sarah Silva has laid out the career path, right? I mean, at 19 years old, started as a caregiver and similar to you, med tech, RCC, which is the toughest job in the company. You know, I played that role by accident a couple of times, just fallen into it because the community needed it when I ran them. And I mean managing people's schedules and expectations, it's an incredibly hard job. So we're sure happy to have you on the sales side for sure. But yeah, definitely got on the hard path and remarkable work that you've done with us. So but some day I might be working for you, so I got to be super nice to you throughout this whole thing. So out of everything in your life, your experiences, accomplishments and family, what are you most proud of?
Cristal: I would probably say graduating from college and getting that opportunity to play sports at a collegiate level. Being Hispanic, that opportunity comes with hard work because we are faced with a lot of challenges in many different ways. So we have to work twice as hard, in my opinion, to get to where we want to be. So it was a challenge for sure, and it was rewarding at the end getting my bachelor's in a very difficult field that is human biology, really close to becoming a doctor. So it's up there and there was many times where I wanted to give up because it was just a lot of work, a lot of studying, a lot of late nights. But I completed it, I graduated, got my bachelor's, which is I think, a really great accomplishment. And I can use that in a lot of different ways. And now I am here using that in a field that not necessarily I was aiming for, but it's still in the field where I'm allowed to help others and help other individuals navigate through their life and things like that.
Thomas: Yeah, I mean, I know when I first met you, I taught a little bit about my story, but I had no idea I'd be working in this. And now 14 years, right? Like it just fell into me. And then I loved it. I mean, I haven't even thought about leaving since. And there's something about this field where you get to really connect to people, family members, residents. I mean, I have things all over my desk that are gifts and mementos and pictures of just experiences I've had in this field. So it's truly remarkable how many people touch us and we get to touch.
Thomas: I hope it turns into a very long career working with us. So you've told us a little about your family. Tell us about your childhood. What are some of your favorite memories?
Cristal: Oh, let's see. Well, I remember we would go to travel to Mexico at least twice a year. And when we would travel to Mexico, it would either be like on a holiday, like for Christmas, around that time, or during summer break. And every time we would visit my grandma, she has a farm and she has animals, she has cows. And I specifically would be the only one that would wake up at four in the morning, get up, help milk the cow. So we have fresh milk in the morning. And then from that milk we would actually make cheese. And not a lot of people like this cheese because it has a very strong odor, but it's very popular in the area where she's from. So she would actually make the cheese sell it and then that's how she would create her income. So that's something that we or I took with her and we did together. And then she also would bake bread that's also very known, like in her area where she's from. So we would do that on a daily basis. And I would love making that because it's it takes a lot of work. It takes days to make the cheese because you have to leave it out to ferment. And she would have all the supplies there.
And it was just such an amazing thing to do and be proud of when it was done and let people know, like, I help my grandma make that cheese, I help my grandma make that bread. So very beautiful thing that I got to experience with my grandma and then just getting to know my family because my most of my family is in Mexico. So it was like a way to connect and get to learn their culture, how they live their lives in Mexico and things like that. So very beautiful way for us to know our parents background and things like that. So it was awesome. I miss it. It's been a while since I've been in Mexico. I want to say like eight or plus years that I've been that haven't been. So hopefully I get to go soon and take my son and get him to know where his grandparents came from and his culture and things like that, because it's very different trying to teach him here because it's completely different over there. Completely different, but very beautiful. Very a lot of festivals going on over there during those times in the summer and Christmas time. So a lot of really fun things to do down there.
Thomas: Most of the good stories start with my grandma right now. It's amazing how that works. It's same for me, right? I mean, I just I fondly look back at some of the times with them, so not surprised to hear that. Tell me about some of your hobbies. I mean, you're a parent. So I say this lightly. You know, between work and parenting, there's not a lot of time for hobbies. But when you do have time, what are some of the things you still like to do?
Cristal: Well, right now, very big on my health. So two years ago, I was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease. So I've been very particular on dieting and exercising just because I've researched and I got to know a little bit more of that diagnosis in its in its whole. So right now I work out on a consistent basis and I try to consume foods that are healthy for me just because I want to be healthy, not only for me but for my son, and try to contribute that to him as well and kind of just get a good start for being healthy and. Just thriving, I guess, as I get older.
Thomas: Great. And who inspires you in your life?
Cristal: I honestly would say my mom. She is the backbone and she has done a lot for me. And I think that's you know, I think that's because of her. I'm at the place where I'm at today. If it wasn't for her and her support through my whole life. I remember when both of my parents would go work, my mom would make sure that I would make it to my soccer practice and she would make sure that she would pay for my really expensive club team to make sure that I succeeded. And that because she saw faith in me and. And yeah, my mom was the one that pushed me and everything in life. So I am very thankful for her. And till this day, you know, she's been my rock.
Thomas: What a great mama you have there. And then your dad works for our company, correct?
Cristal: He does. He's our maintenance director here. So he also has a lot of contributions that he's made. So he was the one that started me into playing soccer. He was actually my coach right when I was a little kid, and that's how I started playing soccer. And he was always very constructive towards me because he knew my capacity and he knew what I was capable of. So he was always very hard on me because he knew that I was able to give more than what I gave myself or gave myself credit for. So he also pushed me along my boundaries and helped me keep myself in check and disciplined.
Thomas: This podcast comes at an incredible time, so my first practice with my five-year-old daughter's team is tomorrow. I spent a good two hours for five-year-olds planning the practice out from minute to minute. My wife came over. She's like, what are you doing? And I was like, I just got to get this right. At least the first one. How do you teach five-year-olds? I usually roll up the balls and let them play, but I got to play. I have a plan. We'll see. I’ll report back to you and let you know how it goes.
Cristal: Yeah, absolutely.
Thomas: It's our first shot at it as well, so. All right. Fun question here. So you're handed a suitcase and two plane tickets. You got to go straight to the airport. Where do you go, who are you bringing, and why?
Cristal: Oh, I will still say my mom 100%. My mom deserves everything. And if I can pay her back one day with everything that she's given to me, like I would give it to my mom, I would let her pick wherever she wants to go. She's the commander. She decides where she wants to go. She deserves that and much more.
Thomas: Where do you think she'd choose?
Cristal: I think she would choose somewhere hot, maybe Hawaii.
Thomas: All right, well, Hawaii is a good spot. It's been awfully hot here, though, unfortunately. So, you know, I hope it's actually cooler over there. All right. Well, this is always the question we end our podcast with, which is at Avamere, we consider our residents family. What does family mean to you?
Cristal: Family is not always blood. I think family means loving and having compassion and caring for other individuals in a way that is undescribed. I think here in this community, we take a lot of residents that need that. And I think it's important for them to have that aspect in their life, especially towards the end of their life. I think family is very important and I think it's awesome that we can share that. We have a lot of people here who are compassionate and care for others. So yeah, I think it's all about caring and loving one another despite their defects and things like that, because at the end you create a bond and it's a beautiful bond that doesn't go away.
Thomas: Well, Cristal, I really appreciate you joining the podcast. You are a very valuable member of our sales team and a mentor for us, and you help others even though you're fairly new in your career with this, but you've shown so much potential and the results to back it. So it just shows all the hard work and effort and energy your families put into you, but also you put back into our community. And thank you to all you do. And thanks for joining the podcast.
Cristal: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Thomas: Thank you for listening to the People of Arete Living Pod. Find us on your favorite podcast platform and follow Arete Living on social media to keep listening in.